By Brenda Carter de Treville

Owner of SeaCasas Unique Boutique

When Hurricane Matthew slammed into Florida’s east coast in October, much of its destruction centered on  hundreds of miles of vulnerable beaches in the Sunshine State. Singling out       stretches like Flagler Beach, Matthew caused widespread ordered evacuations for extensive areas of the coast because of predicted high wind speeds and flooding.

In Florida, some one million lost power as the storm passed to the east. And more than a 1.3-mile section of scenic State Road A1A’s asphalt along Flagler Beach was washed out by Hurricane Matthew's powerful Atlantic Ocean waves along with the sandy earth below. The iconic Flagler Beach Pier lost a total of 150 feet with storm damage which affected the T portion at its furthest end over the ocean.

 With beaches closed due to hazardous debris, power outages and many homes and businesses harmed or destroyed, it was clear that help couldn’t come soon enough for Flagler County.

And it did! Immediately Florida Governor Rick Scott and U.S. government officials, and FEMA along with local elected leaders, all worked to get the needed services to the area. U.S. Rep John Mica led the charge with Governor Scott to access emergency federal transportation funds to help rebuild A1A so the roadway could reopen as quickly as possible.

And the community came together. Some 150 volunteers including Flagler Beach and Palm Coast firefighters, city and county commissioners, residents and non-residents, church groups descended on more than a one-mile stretch of beach to clean up debris – plank by plank and piece by piece of wreckage Hurricane Matthew had left behind. This was key to reopening the beaches for our locals and tourists, a major attraction for Flagler Beach and its economy.

With power restored many area businesses started reopening as well. Some owners could take down the boards covering their business windows and get-up-and-running immediately. Others, sadly, including area hotels, restaurants and shops were either destroyed or damaged so severely that they are still not fully functioning.

Slowly Flagler Beach is resurging!

“Business was very slow in October. Now, we are seeing improvement with area residents returning to dining and shopping. And our snowbirds are returning to the area as well, once again enjoying our beautiful beaches and area parks,” remarked a store owner in Flagler Beach.

“FlaglerStong” has become a mantra for the area. The Farmer’s Market on Friday and Saturday is once again highlighting fresh produce and vendors. The White Orchid Inn and Spa is welcoming guests. Brunch is served on Sundays at local restaurants like The Island Grille and Blue Heron Beachfront Bistro. Dining is underway at such locations as Flagler Fish Company, Funky Pelican, Golden Lion, Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill, Tortugas, Vessel Sandwich Co. And shopping is a must around Flagler Beach at Frankie Alice’s, SeaCasas Unique Boutique, Ocean Art Gallery, Gallery of Local Art, Bahama Mama’s, Down By The Sea and Flagler Beachfront Winery.

Flagler Beach is rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew and it is still one of the top small coastal towns in Florida with great places to discover and a super beach!

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